The Met Office has issued a yellow ice warning for the east coast of Scotland and England and parts of the southwest, the midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland. The advice to "be aware" comes as temperatures are set to dive to as low as -10C in rural parts of The Highlands.

According to the Met Office, between 5cm-10cm (2-4in) of snow is expected to fall in Scotland's northern regions as the UK prepares for freezing conditions today (16 January). Met Office forecaster Rebecca Simpson said: "We do have some warnings in force for some icy roads if you are out and about. We may see lows of -10C in The Highlands, but in towns or cities it will stay around -2C or -3C."

Network Rail has also issued a severe weather warning and advised passengers to check rail services before they travel as "icy weather may affect rail services and journey times", but that there are thousands of rail engineers "working day and night" to prevent delays in travel. Gritting teams have also taken to the road network to clear the way for traffic across the country.

The cold snap is expected to end on Monday, as milder air sweeps in across the Atlantic.

However, weather forecasters have predicted that the UK will escape the clutches of Hurricane Alex, the first hurricane that has formed over the Atlantic since 1978. The storm system could bring up to 18ft high waves and winds of up to 100mph. Officials have already issued a hurricane warning for Portugal's Azores islands, in the mid-Atlantic.

The full list of regions affected by yellow ice warnings include: Central; Tayside and Fife; Dumfries; Galloway; Lothian and Borders; East Midlands; East of England; Grampian; Highlands and Eilean Siar; London and South East England; North East England; North West England; Northern Ireland; South West England; Strathclyde; West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber.